What gives you energy at work?

Life is busy and work can be full on. We can easily get depleted of energy and feel absolutely exhausted. What are you doing to protect yourself and your energy from the daily drains and life overload? Looking after your positive energy is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And learning to monitor how you’re feeling and what pace you are working at is a key part of self-care.

 

But it can be hard to do when you’re facing overwhelm Resilient thinking or developing a strategy to avoid the things or people that deplete your energy will bring benefits that you will see and feel very quickly.

 

How attuned are you to how you’re feeling right now?If you’re under pressure at work, unhappy in your job or embarking on career change you can’t always spot the things that are sapping your energy.

Take my quiz to check your energy levels:

On your way to work you stop to pick up a drink. Do you choose:

  1. A super green detoxing, energising and rejuvenating smoothie plus a banana for later
  2. A caramel machiatto with an espresso chaser and a chocolate croissant
  3. A skinny latte with one shot – it’s your only coffee of the day

Its Monday morning and your diary for the week is already pretty full when another big piece of work arrives in your inbox. Do you:

  1. Feel excited by the new piece of work, realise it’s a priority so cancel and reschedule some non-essential meetings
  2. See this as the final straw – you’re not sure how much longer you can go on like this
  3. Resign yourself to another week of late nights and working at home in the evening

You’ve just completed a project and you were hoping to finish early when a colleague catches you for a ‘chat’ which you know will involve her moaning about everything and holding you up for at least half an hour. Do you:

  1. Tell her you’ll see her tomorrow at the staff meeting but explain you’re on your way out having worked late the night before.
  2. Sit and listen to her for 45mins by which time your good mood has completely evaporated
  3. Explain you would love to chat but you’ve got an important meeting to go to then sneak off and feel guilty all evening.

You notice that you’re meeting work friends for lunch and also in the evening 3 times out of 5 this week. Do you:

  1. Cancel and reschedule 2 of the arrangements but keep the one with the friend who makes you laugh so much you always feel great after seeing her.
  2. Cancel everyone you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open at work anyway.
  3. Go ahead and meet everyone as planned, after all you don’t want to upset anyone plus ‘you can sleep when you’re dead, right?’

You’ve been invited to attend the manager’s meeting which has a reputation for lasting more than 2 hours. Do you:

  1. Ask if you can only attend the slot that is relevant to your area of work.
  2. Attend and spend the whole time worrying about what’s on your to do list
  3. Tell them thanks for the invite but you’re too busy and can’t fit it in.

A colleague has invited you to a lunchtime yoga class which she feels has really helped her stress levels. Do you:

  1. Book your first session straight away
  2. Laugh hysterically – ‘lunchtime’ what’s that?
  3. Think yoga’s a bit new age and know you’d rather spend your lunchtime checking out Twitter and Facebook

Your Energy Results:

Mostly 1’s

You’re very aware of protecting your energy and make choices that will preserve your energy levels. You’re assertive and can manage demands on your time well while avoiding energy drainers. You have a good appreciation of nurturing health, mind and body in order to have energy in all areas of your life.

Mostly 2’s

Watch out! You’re close to burn out and so energy depleted that there is no room for self care. You are being sucked into activities and being with people that have negative energy or take energy from you. You need to find a way to make some time for yourself, to think about how you can work differently and engage with things that give you energy – think about what you enjoy and what makes you feel good. Be aware of your physical needs too – substitute coffee and chocolate for some healthy alternatives.

Mostly 3’s

You think you’re doing ok energy wise but could be allowing negative feelings of guilt or anxiety to eat away at your energy levels. Be clear about what actually saps your energy and avoid those things. Be open to trying new things to make you feel good and experiment putting your needs first and saying no assertively.

Need some help making changes to avoid overwhelm, get in touch for a FREE clarity call.

Please do leave some tips in the comments on how you manage your energy levels – we can all learn from each other!

Tweet your way to a job: using social media to develop your career

Development of your career, both in terms of progression, and the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, now belongs firmly in your court. Gone are the days when you could expect that sort of nurturing and investment from your employer. However, knowing where to start to make sure that your employability is enhanced through the development choices you make can seem daunting.

However, encouraging your natural curiosity as an instinctual tool and approach can reap benefits, particularly when harnessed by social media, in the form of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other emerging channels. This means you can develop your career without having to leave home, spending lots of money on expensive courses or embarking on projects without being entirely clear how they can benefit your career. Putting some time aside to indulge your curiosity through social media makes it easy to research, map and plan the activities you want to undertake to stretch you, help you grow and position you well for future opportunities. It also makes you and your knowledge more visible to both current and future employers.

How to channel and develop your career curiosity through social media:

Reframe your View

Don’t think of social media sites such as LinkedIn purely as a way to find a job, view them as a place to be curious, to find out about your own career possibilities, and learn about the experiences of others. If you’re thinking of career change you can research what others with similar work experience or skills have gone onto to do, or if you’re planning your next move you can check out the skills and qualities valued by the companies you want to work for – are they recruiting a certain kind of candidate?

Improve your digital career literacy

Be curious about your own digital career literacy and self audit – what could you do to improve how you use online resources to develop your career?

Can you learn to use new technologies and opportunities in the context of career building, for example, when you find a new site such as Pinterest are you able to evaluate how useful it could be to your career?

Can you source and interpret online career information without becoming overwhelmed? Do you have systems for retaining and utilising such resources? Can you check it’s provenance?

Can you communicate effectively across different platforms and understand how doing so contributes to building your career?

Are you aware of how your online contributions contribute to your career presence? What is the career presence you want other online users to view of you?

Consider how you use these resources: are you using Twitter only for social purposes – review whether it could be an avenue to develop, to share your views and learn more from others in your field, and set up a separate Twitter account; similarly with LinkedIn – if you just have your CV on there and haven’t contributed to any groups then you could be missing opportunities to connect, learn and share knowledge with others. When you self-audit think what would a potential employer/client  find out about you and what would you want them to see?

Have a plan/strategy

Curiosity can lead us to explore mainly different directions so to keep a balance think about why you want to use these tools – what is the purpose? Is it for job searching, job researching, profile raising, networking or career learning? Make a note of interesting avenues that you may want to explore at another time.

Have a Presence

Just having a social media presence can encourage ‘happenstance’ to occur, where chance opportunities and connections lead to career possibilities which you may not have previously considered, for example, finding a mentor or rediscovering an old workmate who now works at a company that you are really interested in.

Follow your instincts

Some may call it nosiness I prefer  curiosity – let it guide your  actions, see potential and think laterally, for example, online researching of people you have met or heard speak at an event in order to understand their world view – this is a great way to discover how you can best connect with them in order to develop your career. Could they be someone you can learn from? Could they be a role model? Or could they simply be someone doing the job you ultimately would love to do? You can learn a lot from the route they have followed and can incorporate elements into your own career plan.

Share and extend your knowledge

What don’t you know?

Being aware of and curious about gaps in your career knowledge can guide your decision to join and contribute to LinkedIn group discussions, share tweets, write blogs or post links and articles on Facebook. Doing this can provide you not only with peer support but also help you stay up to date. Plus your own profile is raised and, your credibility as a source of knowledge will build your career confidence and help develop further contacts and connections. Employers will really value this.

If you’re jobsearching, then being seen and perceived as someone who takes their continuous professional development seriously through contributions to current debate and discussion can only enhance your attractiveness.

Be brave

The effectiveness of any online tool lies in the hands of the user, but these tools are going to grow and grow so it is important to be brave and be curious in order to make them work for you.

Don’t forget to question, analyse, reflect and explore the career information and the way you use it –  important factors in constructing a sense of yourself,  your career and how you want to develop it.

For help with your career development get in touch at [email protected]

First published on Guardian Careers site in 2014.

Image courtesy of instagram.com/jordanfmcqueen via unsplash.com

Create Your Own Work Life Balance Checklist

Work life balance can seem an impossible ideal to achieve with technology making work accessible 24/7 and the fear of redundancy snapping at everyone’s heels. The stress of never being able to switch off and the long hours worked, we know, is damaging to health, relationships and overall happiness.

Often we are so immersed in the hours and the work we only know something is wrong when we get close to crisis. However you can schedule in a regular check, maybe every 1 – 2 months,  to keep an eye on your balance and make adjustments if things are starting to dip.

The definition of work life balance is personal and individual but the following list can help you work out what you personally need to review regularly:

  1. How many hours a week am I working? Am I being productive in those hours?
  2. Am I bringing work home with me? How often do I work in the evening?
  3. How often do I take a lunch break? Do I need to work through my lunch hour?
  4. Am I able to switch off at the weekend? Am I thinking about work all the time?
  5. How am I using my phone/tablet? Is it keeping me too plugged into work?
  6. Am I taking my holidays? Do I take work on holiday with me? Am I contactable by work when I’m on holiday?
  7. Do I have any interests outside work? How much time do I make for them?
  8. Have I missed any family events because of work?
  9. Am I managing to spend quality time with family/friends on a regular basis?
  10. Am I often late to collect my children from childcare/school?
  11. Have I made time for me to recharge?
  12. What is my mood like? Am I snappy with loved ones? Do I feel anxious about work/guilty about home?
  13. Have I been able to do any exercise recently?

If you are finding that certain areas are out of balance then taking action quickly can bring long term benefit. This Guardian Careers blog  10 tips for better work life balance is very useful.

 

Can Sleep Deprivation harm your career?

When was the last time you had a  good night’s sleep? I mean, a really good night’s sleep where you woke up naturally, feeling refreshed and alert. For many people that feeling is a dim and distant memory as they struggle with busy lives, 24 hour connectedness and a society which wears overwork and tiredness like a badge of honour denoting success and productivity.  Actually the research tells us that, not unsurprisingly, lack of sleep is harmful, not only for our health  – increased risk of heart disease and stroke, but also to our career.

How can we be operating at our best in our chosen career, making good decisions and being intellectually creative if we are in constant sleep deficit. If you lose as little as one and a half hours sleep in one night it could result in a reduction in daytime alertness of as much as 32%. This impairs your memory and your ability to think and process information. In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington cites a study published in Science that calculated that for the sleep deprived, an extra hour of sleep can do more for your daily happiness than a significant pay rise!

What does the brain get up to while we sleep?

Sleep is important because it allows the brain time to do some neurological tidying up as well as physical repair and renewal. This means it has the chance to get rid of toxins and keep the brain healthy. Sleep also allows our brains to consolidate memories which plays a direct role in learning – helping us to cement the new information we’re absorbing and making it more likely we can recall it later. A recent study published in the journal Current Biology also found that the brain processes complex stimuli during sleep, and uses this information to make decisions while awake.

It is no surprise then that when we’ve slept well we feel mentally alert, clear, able to focus and make sound decisions – all key things in being effective in your job and progressing in your career.

How can you improve the quality of your sleep?

  • Aim for a minimum of 7 hours so plan what time you need to go to bed to achieve that and stick to it.
  • Don’t go on your phone, tablet or computer for at least an hour before you plan to go to bed – the blue light given off by the screens inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.
  • Find out what helps you relax – warm bath, hot drink, gentle yoga moves, reading a good book, etc. and develop a bedtime routine that works for you.
  • If you find it hard to switch off from all the things going round in your head then keep a notebook by your bedside to capture any persistent thoughts
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark

The one-third of our lives that we spend sleeping plays a direct role in how full, energetic and successful the other two-thirds of our lives can be. With good sleep we can be more organised, can make better decisions, learn new things more effectively and be intellectually creative at work.

Got a great sleep technique that works for you, please share in the comments section.

 

 

 

How to Make Time for Your Career Change

Being time poor is  a classic symptom of our busy busy lives. We often get a certain buzz from being so busy,  so important or indispensable that we don’t have a moment to ourselves. But it can come at a cost if our daily work lives don’t sustain us, value us or feel enjoyable and we know it’s time for a career change. Because there’s the problem – we are so busy that we just don’t have the time or the mental space to work out what else we can do.

Liz was a case in point – she was successful in her career, managing a large team and achieving her targets but she had known deep down for quite a while that something wasn’t right. She just didn’t enjoy her work like she used to, and the same question kept popping into her head – ‘what if there is something else I was meant to do?’ But she was too busy to spend any quality time trying to find the answer.

Well as Charles Buxton, the English brewer and philanthropist  said ” You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” Easier said than done I hear you cry, but I think we can use lack of time as an excuse, so try and answer the following questions to create the time you need for career change:

  1. What have you achieved so far when thinking about career change?
  • List all the actions/thoughts you have had so far about changing career – seeing what you have managed to accomplish to date can give you a boost.
  1. How important is it on a scale of 1-10 for you to make time for career change?
  • Working out your motivation level can help you prioritise over other less important things.
  • If the number you select is lower than you would have thought think about what you could do to increase your motivation by one number.
  1. How much time do you need to create for career change?
  • Deciding how much time you need can be so liberating  – if you realise that initially all you need is one evening a week then that can feel much more manageable to make time for.
  1. What actions do you need to take?
  • Break down the idea of changing career into some specific actions and this will feel more achievable and manageable.
  • It will also allow you to see what you can achieve by yourself and where you might need some help.

Now you understand your motivation and you’re a bit clearer about what you need to create time for, you are in a much better place to start saying ‘no’ to the time stealers and ‘yes’ to  spending some quality thinking about your career change.

Let me know how you get on – please leave a comment.

Good luck

Top Tips to get your Flexible Working Request agreed

Latest statistics from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggest 54% of employees nationally are undertaking some sort of flexible working, and 69% of those working flexibly are satisfied or very satisfied with their roles. London is lagging slightly behind with only 52% of employees working flexibly so there is scope to improve this particularly given Londoners have the longest commute in the country averaging 47 minutes. Flexible working is open to anyone, not just parents and those caring for dependants.

However, being able to ask for it is not the same as getting it agreed and  taking part in the Mumsnet Workfest 2016 Panel this weekend, discussing flexible working it is clear that that this can be a daunting prospect.

Follow these top tips to stand the best chance of getting your request accepted.

  • Acknowledge your feelings

 

Asking to work flexibly can feel akin to asking for a pay rise – scary and exciting. There is the potential for rejection, for your employer to say no, as they are within their rights to refuse a request if it can’t be agreed for business reasons. And if they say no, where does that leave you?  So the whole prospect can feel a bit emotionally charged. Just acknowledging how you feel and trying to get some objectivity and perspective on it can really help in your preparation.

  • Be realistic

 

Have a good think about what kind of flexibility you want and need , and then think about what is realistically achievable in your job. After all you know  your job inside out so you know how it can be structured and delivered. Really think about what works for your situation. It is tempting to ask for a reduction in hours and then try to cram everything into those hours  which obviously then leads in the direction of burnout. Look at what can be cut out of your job description, what projects can be shelved/rescheduled, and then make your request realistic to your needs. Be prepared that your job might not appear conducive to part time or reduced hours so think creatively as outlined in tip 4. Also if you want to significantly reduce your hours then you may need to consider a job share but identify this don’t leave it for your employer to spot.

  • Prepare a strategic business case

 

This will require  a bit of work but you need to try and make it easy for them to say yes. Identify what the benefits are to the business of a change in your work patterns. Then anticipate what their issues might be with the change and address them by identifying possible solutions and options. Research what your competitors are doing to add weight  to your case, by suggesting that either your employer could be leading the way and being cutting edge, or making sure  they don’t fall behind in attracting and retaining talent.

  • Be creative

 

Consider all types of flexible working and how your work can be done differently. Research what different organisations are doing, think about your situation creatively, for example, if you’re reducing  your hours could the salary savings pay for freelance work on a particular aspect of your job or increase someone else’s admin hours to take on the routine part of your job.

  • Look for champions

 

Try and get some support for your request before you make it. Maybe your HR team can give you some advice – they will know what the precedents have been within the organisation. Think about your boss, particularly if they are not the decision maker, as their view will be sought, and it will have most impact on them so having an informal chat and sounding them out can be very useful. Talk to other staff/colleagues who are  working flexibly and find out what works and what doesn’t.

  • Have a Backup Plan

 

Think about what would be an acceptable second option if your employer does refuse your first request. There may be room to negotiate, for example If they can’t reduce your days would working from home or starting later/finishing earlier help?

  • Look after yourself

 

It will take some adjustment to working flexibly and will require a mind set shift from you as well as your employer. Strong boundaries need to be established as well as acceptance that you may not have the same level of involvement in everything at work. Above all make sure you build strategies into your new way of working that protect the balance in your life and protect you from trying to do everything.

If you’ve got other tips that have worked for you please share then in the comments below.

How to beat interview bias

A 2015 report, published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, on the behavioural science of recruitment found that managers invariably employ people with similar hobbies, life experiences, dress sense and mannerisms, despite the fact that none of these characteristics have any bearing on a candidate’s ability to do the job in hand (People Management magazine March 2016). As a candidate should you be worried given the amount of effort and energy you put into your application, CV and interview preparation? Could it be pointless if simply your face doesn’t fit and is there anything you can do about it anyway?

Well, we all have unconscious bias which triggers automatic judgements and assessments, and social scientists have long recognised that we are wired to like and trust people like us. The key is that this is recognised, and most organisations will be aware of the need to train their managers in interview skills. Plus, despite the report findings, managers still want to appoint the person who has the skills and capabilities to do the job well. Therefore the time you spend demonstrating this through your application and CV is worthwhile in order to get to interview stage.

And once you’re there understanding what managers are looking for can be helpful:

  • Can you do the job? – do you have the right skills and experience to undertake the role.
  • Will you do the job? – do you have the commitment, energy, enthusiasm and interest in the role and the organisation to perform the job to the best of your ability
  • Will you fit in? – are you a match with the organisational culture, the team and potential colleagues

Being mindful of these underlying questions when you are doing your research, interview preparation and when you are responding to their direct interview questions can help you shape your answers. You still need to be authentic, after all there’s no point pretending to be someone you’re not, but they can help you think about the most relevant examples and responses.

These questions can help you too, as don’t forget your unconscious bias will kick in as well, especially around question 3. The job and the organisation needs to chime with your values and motivations – if you’ve ever felt like a square peg in a round hole at work then it is usually because there is a mismatch between your values and your team/organisational values. You will get clues about these things at the interview from how people dress, office layout, the formal or informal approach to the interview, their responses to your questions and the language they use. Behavioural science can work for you too. Don’t forget the interview is a 2 way process – you don’t want to just take any job you want to take the right job for you.

For info on coaching to be successful at interview contact Sarah at [email protected]